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Director Venkat Prabhu: Nayattu inspired me to make Custody

The Mankatha filmmaker discusses what triggered him to make Custody, cast Naga Chaitanya in it and the many challenges of making a bilingual

Director Venkat Prabhu: Nayattu inspired me to make Custody
Venkat Prabhu on Custody

Last Updated: 08.51 AM, May 10, 2023


While director Venkat Prabhu may officially make his Telugu debut with Naga Chaitanya’s cop thriller Custody, but many of his dubbed films - Mankatha, Saroja, Maanaadu - are quite popular with audiences in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in theatres and in OTT. The Tamil-Telugu bilingual Custody continues the filmmaker’s tryst with the cop universe after Biriyani, Mankatha, Maanaadu and Saroja.

Ahead of Custody’s worldwide release on May 12, the filmmaker gets talking to

The origins of Custody

I wrote the story during the COVID-19 lockdown and I was inspired by the Malayalam film Nayattu. While there are forced commercial elements in Nayattu, I felt Tamil, and Telugu audiences would appreciate such stories with a mainstream touch. I came up with the story of an ordinary constable with big dreams. When I watched a song from Love Story, I felt Naga Chaitanya would fit the bill. He liked it immediately and producer Srinivasaa Chitturi joined forces later. He was planning to produce a film with me for a long time.


Story with a universal appeal

Shiva is a constable raised in a small town who has a loving family. The film takes off with an unexpected conflict in his life. Starting with the pre-interval portions, the film will more or less be an edge-of-the-seat thriller. We’ve made it to suit the sensibilities of Telugu and Tamil audiences. This is a story with a universal appeal and crowds across all age groups will enjoy it. The screenplay will be gripping.

Naga Chaitanya Vs Arvind Swami battle in the film

We wanted an antagonist who would be fiercer and powerful than Naga Chaitanya and hence picked Arvind Swami. How will an underdog control a force like him in the film? The possibilities leave you intrigued. Naga Chaitanya is a fabulous actor and you’ll see a newer dimension to him as a performer. I like to showcase my heroes differently and I hope I’ve done justice. The action sequences are quite unique. Even Sarath Kumar has a powerful role.

Other nuggets about the film

As you may’ve experienced in the trailer already, Ilaiyaraaja and Yuvan Shankar Raja have hit it out of the park with their music score. It is the biggest asset of Custody. The soundscape is quite unique. There’ll be an opening song in the film and a retro number, which will certainly excite audiences. I’ll also take the opportunity to clarify that the film has no similarities to Maanaadu.

It was not easy to make a bilingual, shooting every scene twice and taking care of all production, and pre-release formalities in both languages. It was physically and mentally taxing. Yes, Shiva was one of the titles we’d considered for the film but Naga Chaitanya was against the idea and didn’t want to invite unnecessary comparisons. Krithi Shetty has performed as per my expectations.

(Also starring Premi Vishwanath, Priya Mani, Vennela Kishore, Premgi Amaren and others, Custody, produced by Srinivasaa Silver Screen, will be out this Friday)

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